By Community Alliance with Family Farmers, CAFF
Artichokes and asparagus and strawberries — oh my! It is officially Spring here in California, and farmers’ markets around the state are appropriately overflowing with delicious, seasonal produce. So rejoice! But as you savor Spring’s first exquisite strawberries, also take a moment to reflect on exactly who grew them and how.
Is that strawberry organically produced? That question is set to become even more crucial over the next couple of years unless the public outcry is sufficient to reverse a 2010 decision by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The pesticide methyl iodide has been approved for use in California’s conventional strawberry industry — against the explicit warnings of multiple expert panels, Nobel laureates, environmentalists, and just about everyone without a financial stake in the company that makes it. Called “one of the most toxic chemicals on earth,” methyl iodide is far worse than its predecessor methyl bromide, and it profoundly threatens the environmental and public health of agricultural communities. Visit the Safe Strawberry campaign for more information and to get involved in rolling back methyl iodide approval.
Strawberries are one of the only crops that must still be harvested by hand. Who picked yours? What did their workday look like? Were they paid and treated fairly? Sustainable foodservice leader Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO) and the United Farm Workers (UFW) recently came out with a groundbreaking report that sheds new light on the question of farm labor in the U.S. The Inventory of Farmworker Issues and Protections in the United States is a sobering read. “Even the most conscientious eaters and food industry professionals are usually in the dark” about farm labor issues, the report points out. BAMCO and the UFW have gone a long way toward bridging that knowledge gap. Click here to read the BAMCO press release or download the full report.